An insufferable movie snob wanders off the beaten track, comes back and talks about what he has seen.
My Week of Movie Watching
March 16, 2015
L’Eclisse – Michelangelo Antonioni film from 1962 stars his frequent collaborative muse Monica Vitti as a translator who breaks off a relationship with a writer, then drifts into a tenuous new one with a stockbroker (Alain Delon). This is familiar Antonioni territory, populated by characters who don’t really know what they want, or don’t know how to connect to others. Vitti’s Vittoria is particularly hard to get close to, and her relationship to Delon’s Piero is notable as involving two people who are only half-heartedly committed to each other. What I liked about L’Eclisse is Antonioni’s use of stark architecture and random objects to illustrate alienation and loneliness. This is juxtaposed with frenetic scenes of the stockroom floor, and the contrast is startling. Also notable are the final passages, where the director abandons his main characters and just concentrates on empty streets and buildings. L’Eclisse is a bit hard to embrace, but I still recommend it.
Dark City – Lesser-known Noir from 1950 from William Dieterle. A young Charlton Heston stars as a small-time gambler who lures an innocent pigeon into a fixed game. After losing $5000 that doesn’t belong to him, the man commits suicide. That is the base plot for a decent Noir, but DC adds an extra twist, when Heston and his mates find themselves hunted by the psychotic brother of the dead man. I liked the way this film put an extra spin on the plot, and the way the killer brother is portrayed is effective: For 95% of the movie, he is only identifiable by a ring on his finger. This film has a first-rate cast consisting of Jack Webb, Dean Jagger, Harry Morgan, Mike Mazurski, and the late, great Lizabeth Scott as Heston’s torch singer girlfriend.
The Rules of the Game – I’m a fan of the work of Jean Renoir, and this is his masterpiece. A famous, Lindbergh-esque aviator accepts an invitation to a prosperous country estate because he wants to pursue the wife of its owner. During a weekend at the estate, various coupling and betrayal occur, usually within plain sight of all involved. Rules is a statement on the fluctuating morality of the French upper class, but what I really love about it is the flow that Renoir achieves in his presentation of the multiple stories. There are usually multiple plotlines going at once, and Renoir lets them play out and intersect one another as the event devolves into chaos. Highly recommended.